Thomas Jefferson Papers

Peter Cardelli to Thomas Jefferson, 8 July 1819

From Peter Cardelli

Washington 8 Juilliet 1819 at the Capitol.


Je suis bien desolé de ne pas recevoir la Caisse de Votre buste; il y a cinq saimaimes que je suis parti de Monticello; tous mes affaires sont appuyé a cett’Ouvraje que je doit montrer au President a son retour . . je sacrifie se que je peut gagner au Capitol pour cela!

Je vous en prie; de donner ordre a Votre Expedictionier s’il n’y à pas d’occasion par Eaux, qu’il expedie par le staje, pour vous qu’on ne la mettent pas en dehors - - - - - Pardonez ma liberté,

J’ai terminé celui de Mr Madison avec beacoup de satisfaction.

J’ai Su que les italiens sont arrive chez Vous. Je me suis informè pour savoir le prix de Colonnes a tant par pied.—mais on ne peut pas le fixer a cause qu’il y à des stone plus ou moins dur.—

il y auroit bien ici des taillieur de Pierre qui Viendrais a travailier au Colleje, mais pas a Moins de deux dollar et le Lojement compris. …

Je Vous prie en Grace Avoir la Beaunte de faire axcellerer la Caisse; je suis bien faché de ne pas l’avoir prit avec moi; je spere pourtent qu’elle ne sairà pas perdue … mais j’en suis bien en Peine. …

Prie de Grace mes plus grands Respects à toutte l’Aimable Fameille etc etc etc

et suis de Votre Exellance le tres humbe serviteur

Pr Cardelli . .

Editors’ Translation

Washington 8 July 1819 at the Capitol.


I am quite distressed not to have received the box with your bust. It has been five weeks since I left Monticello. All my affairs depend on this work, which I must show to the president on his return . . And for this I am sacrificing what I might be earning at the Capitol!

I beg you to order your shipper to send it by the stagecoach, if there is no opportunity to do so by water, so long as it is not placed in the open air - - - - - Pardon the liberty I take,

I have finished that of Mr. Madison with great satisfaction.

I have learned that the Italians have arrived at your place. I inquired about the price of columns per foot, but it cannot be thus fixed because some stones are harder than others.—

Many stonecutters here would work at the college, but for nothing less than two dollars plus lodging. …

I beg you to have the goodness to speed the box along. I am very sorry that I did not take it with me. I hope that it will not get lost … I am quite anxious about it. …

Pray kindly extend my highest respects to your entire amiable family etc. etc. etc.

and I am your excellency’s most humble servant

Pr Cardelli . .

RC (MHi); dateline at foot of text; ellipses in original; endorsed by TJ as received 27 July 1819 and so recorded in SJL. Translation by Dr. Roland H. Simon.

Peter (Pietro) Cardelli (1776–1822), sculptor, was born in Rome and studied painting at the Accademia di San Luca in 1793. By 1801 he moved to Paris, where he worked as a sculptor and exhibited at the Paris Salons of 1804, 1810, and 1812. Proceeding to London and displaying works at the Royal Academy, 1815–16, in the latter year Cardelli went to New York City seeking more lucrative support for his art. There he befriended John Trumbull, who encouraged him to go to Washington, D.C. Cardelli did so but found only limited employment as an ornamentalist on the renovations of the United States Capitol, 1818–19. He then sought portrait commissions and modeled the busts of statesmen, including TJ, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams, hoping to profit by selling plaster copies. Still struggling to achieve commercial success, Cardelli moved to New Orleans in 1820, and the following year he performed decorative work on the front of the Cabildo, the city hall. He died in New Orleans (Alberto M. Ghisalberti and others, eds., Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani [1960– ], 19:770–1; Michael Preston Worley, “Identifying Pietro Cardelli [1776–1822] and his Œuvre: From the Salon of 1804 in Paris to the Pediment of the Cabildo in New Orleans,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 122 [1993]: 41–50; Gérard Hubert, Les Sculpteurs Italiens en France sous la Révolution l’Empire et la Restauration, 1790–1830 [1964], 122–6; Groce and Wallace, Dictionary of Artists description begins George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564–1860, 1957 description ends , 108–9; Latrobe, Papers description begins John C. Van Horne and others, eds., The Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1984–88, 3 vols. description ends , 3:941–2, 953–4; Cardelli-Trumbull correspondence [NjMoHP: Lloyd W. Smith Collection]; Samuel Wilson Jr., “Pietro Cardelli, Sculptor of the Cabildo’s Eagle,” Louisiana History 21 [1980]: 399–405).

les italiens were Giacomo Raggi and Michele Raggi.

On 15 June 1819 Cardelli wrote from Monticello to John Quincy Adams that “j’ai terminé le buste de Mr Jefferson et je part oujourdui pour Montpelier chez Mr Madison” (“I finished the bust of Mr. Jefferson and depart today for Montpellier, the home of Mr. Madison”) (MHi: Adams Papers). An image of Cardelli’s bust of TJ is reproduced elsewhere in this volume.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John Quincy; and P. Cardelli search
  • Cardelli, Peter (Pietro); and sculptors for University of Virginia search
  • Cardelli, Peter (Pietro); bust of J. Madison search
  • Cardelli, Peter (Pietro); bust of TJ search
  • Cardelli, Peter (Pietro); identified search
  • Cardelli, Peter (Pietro); letters from search
  • Cardelli, Peter (Pietro); visits Monticello search
  • Cardelli, Peter (Pietro); visits Montpellier (Madison family estate) search
  • carriages; stagecoaches search
  • French language; letters in, from; P. Cardelli search
  • Italy; stonecutters from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; P. Cardelli’s bust search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); P. Cardelli’s bust of search
  • Monroe, James; mentioned search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Cardelli, Peter search
  • Montpellier (Montpelier; J. Madison’s Orange Co. estate); visitors to search
  • Raggi, Giacomo; as stonecutter for University of Virginia search
  • Raggi, Michele; as stonecutter for University of Virginia search
  • sculpture; P. Cardelli’s busts search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; stonecutters for search
  • Washington, D.C.; builders’ prices in search